Herzl's Altneuland: Zionist utopia, medical science and public health. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article we explore how the vision uniting Zionism, science, medicine and public health is depicted in Herzl's novel Altneuland (Old-New Land). Altneuland, which belongs to the genre of fin-de-si├Ęcle utopian novels, presents a modernistic vision of progress, integrating science with a humanistic society of equals. The remedy for the "psychopathology of the Jew" was believed by many Zionists to be a return to Palestine, and the establishment there of a healthy national Jewish home. Yet, Herzl's utopia, as depicted in Altneuland, is homogeneous, not allowing for other voices to be expressed, such as those of women and Arabs. Moreover, the belief that science and technology could solve social problems did not take into account the tensions that they would create in the society and environment. This vision of science and society, with its inherent tensions, will continue to inform the Zionist discourse of our present day.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003